Quiz 7H04   Main

Tricky Plays

  by Richard Pavlicek

Trick or treat! As South, can you find the tricky play to make each contract?
First problem is easiest, second is tougher, and the third is ghoulish.

Problem 1

4 S South
None Vul
S K J 6 5
H 3
D A K 3 2
C 6 5 4 3

All Pass

3 S

1 S
4 S
Lead: C QTableEast plays C 8
S 10 9 8 7 4 3
C A 9 7 2

After winning the C A, what next?

A. Win H A-K; lead S 7
B. Win D Q; H A-K; lead S 7
C. Win D Q; H A; ruff H K
D. Win D A-K; H A-K; lead S 7


Given time it would be easy to win 10 tricks, via four spades, two hearts, three diamonds and a club; but you are in danger of losing four tricks early on (two clubs and two spades). Therefore, you must aim for two fast discards.

After winning the C A and unblocking the D Q, the only quick entry to dummy is a heart ruff, even though this means ruffing a winner. Cash the H A, ruff the H K, and cash the D A-K to pitch two clubs from your hand.

West held: S 2 H Q-10-8-6-2 D J-9-7-5-4 C Q-J

Quiz 7H04   MainTop   Tricky Plays

Problem 2

4 H South
E-W Vul
S A K 10 7 5
H A J 10
D J 2
C 9 5 4

3 D
All Pass
1 S
3 H
4 D
2 H
4 H
Lead: D KTableEast plays D 5
S 8 6 2
H K Q 9 8 5 4 2
C K 8 6

A. Ruff; lead S 2 to king
B. Ruff; win H A; ruff D J
C. Pitch a spade
D. Pitch a club


With nine top tricks, you need to find the C A onside or establish the spade suit. Problem with the latter is that you will likely lose a spade trick to East, then a club through your king may set you before you can enjoy the spades.

The solution? Pitch a spade on the first trick, as West can do no harm. Then you can establish the spade suit by ruffing. You can even cope with a singleton spade in West by leading the second spade from South after cashing one trump.

West held: S J-3 H 7-3 D K-Q-9-8-7-6 C A-10-7

Quiz 7H04   MainTop   Tricky Plays

Problem 3

3 NT South
None Vul
S 2
H 10 8 4
C A K J 10 8 5 3

All Pass
1 C
2 C
3 C
1 S
2 D
3 NT
Lead: H QTableEast plays H 3
S A K 7 5 3
H A K 2
D Q 7 5 4
C 9

After winning the H A, what next?
East has C Q-6-4 so no luck there!

A. Lead the D 4
B. Win C A; lead C K-J pitch S 3 S 5
C. Win C A; lead C K-J pitch S 3 H K
D. Lead C 9 to jack


With only six top tricks, you need to develop clubs. If East wins the C Q, a heart return could be deadly, since West may have the D A with his good hearts. Ducking the H Q or leading diamonds first could lose your diamond entry to dummy.

The key is to cash the C A-K immediately (say, pitching a spade) then lead the C J. If East takes the C Q, you jettison the H K! This allows time to knock out the D A to reach the clubs, since dummy’s H 10 stops the heart suit.

West held: S Q-10-8-4 H Q-J-9-7-6 D A-6 C 7-2

Quiz 7H04   MainTop   Tricky Plays

© 1990 Richard Pavlicek